These are my thoughts on the SAP Solution Manager (SolMan) tool “Data Volume Management” or “DVM”.

I have been working as the technical lead on a project to setup DVM in a Solman system over the past 5 months and it is a tool that interests me greatly; both with regard to how it stands today and as to what it could develop into in the future.

** The system on which I’ve been working and on which this blog is based, is a SolMan 7.1 system with SP11. **

DVM is a tool of substance and of great promise for SAP ALM/RunSAP. I have found things to both love and hate in this product, which has wide-ranging uses for analyses of archiving, compression, system statistics and trending. In IT in general I feel that problems often arise because not enough people (or no-one) can really see the root cause of problems in the technology ecosystem. This applies not only to problems in fact, but also to potential problems, inefficient operations, opportunities and anything else related to a full comprehension of every layer of the systems that you are running.

DVM can, vitally, give centralised visibility and clarity on key data volume information on SAP systems, both high level strategic data (e.g. show me growth in all my BW systems of the last two year) and on the micro-detail level (e.g. show my table utilisation/access data on DBTABLOG in the last 6 months and show me a breakdown of the age of records in that table).

So what is great about DVM and what is poor? Well here is my view as it stands today (Monday 8th December 2014):

What is great:

  • Fantastic potential for ROI
  • Some early features are already very good
  • The work centre shows promise as a UI
  • Support of the tool is quick and detailed – the component is SV-SMG-DVM
  • You can use this tool to analyse archiving opportinities and this could provide some ROI on quick and/or proactive analysis
  • The tool’s capabilities are great – they cover:
    • Statistics and trending information for systems across several vertical layers (Products, Systems, Applications Areas, Archiving Objects, Tables)
    • “Decision Maker” toolset
    • Specific analyses for Reorg. & Compression
    • Specific analyses for Archiving & Potential Savings
    • Specific Age of Records analyses (leveraging TAANA)
    • Service Documents functionality
    • Impact & References
    • Reports
  • Many of the features of this tool could prove useful to varied technical and business projects –
    • e.g. 1: data volume, age of records, tables analysis; could all prove useful to technical migration/upgrade projects.
    • e.g. 2: Age of Records & Archiving reports could prove useful for balancing legal compliance for data retention with optimal usage of high cost storage vs lower cost offline data storage.

What is poor:

  • DVM appears to be slow and/or requires relatively powerful system (note that you can technically now run SolMan on HANA – I think as HANA becomes more prevalant and cost comes down this will be a common setup, as SolMan is becoming progressively more important on large landscapes -see SAP Solution Manager 7.1, powered by SAP HANA – SAP Help Portal Page)
  • Frustrating UI – the DVM work center UI has many glitches and even SAP themselves specifically state that you are better to use the browser version (trx: SM_WORKCENTER) rather than the SAP GUI version (SOLMAN_WORKCENTER). Yet many will now know this – the information (currently) is on the SAP Wiki for DVM –  Data Volume Management – Technical Operations – SCN Wiki
    NB Currently I’ve tested IE 8 and Chrome and Chrome is handling DVM far better in one key regard – when a long-running report is running you can clearly see browser feedback that it’s running. In IE 8 you could easily think it’s stopped and died when in actual fact if you wait it will then generally come back once completed.
    NNB This is a bit of a side note, but it’s clear that there
    are still issues using web pages via various third party browsers, over using a standardised SAP GUI interface. This is something that still needs work in general.
  • Lack of meaningful feedback – often reports fail (or at least they did for me in the first few months as we were getting DVM setup). This can be for valid reasons but the interface does very little to give constructive feedback. For example certain reports require 4 consecutive weeks of data to run, yet this is not made clear. Other reports require specific DVM “Analyses” to be running. This again is not very clear, despite a recently released list of some details of extractors that DVM activates: DVM Extractor Information – Technical Operations – SCN Wiki
  • Lack of analytical features to get visibility of the health of DVM BW structure InfoProviders in the SolMan database – if you want to analyse what data you have collected your options are limited. You can use standard BW InfoCube interrogation methods but these are quite complex and it would very very valuable to have some self-analysis reports in the DVM work center that relate to what DVM needs to be there for reports to run successfully – i.e. data on how many weeks of consecutive healthy data exists for system ABC..
  • It’s lacking a user guide/operation manual. The Wiki site isn’t bad but the SolMan 7.1 Operations guide is really omitting any good detail on how to use DVM and as the UI isn’t that intuitive, this is a big miss. It’s also very hard to fully work out, for administrators, how DVM’s mechanics work with no guide (or SAP Press book that I’m aware of). In fact it’s a combination not only of extractor framework extraction jobs (that run from batch jobs in SolMan), but also of specific DVM “analyses” (that run as batch jobs in the managed system)
  • It’s lacking a user-friendly way to setup automated periodic reports based on DVM reports – as these can take a lot of time to run manually this is again a big miss and hopefully something that will be added in future updates.
  • The “Templates” that you can select when you activate DVM are a little buggy – I had issues where they setup numerous “analyses” with TAANA fields that just didn’t exist in the managed systems; so those analysis jobs just sat there in the DVM work center not running (with no clear feedback on why – for this you need to check for DVM* jobs in the managed system and read the logs). **Related tip: Make sure you’ve run the latest check of RTCCTOOL and applied all “red light” SAP notes in both the SolMan and Managed System.**

DVM is part of a raft of developing SolMan applications that, since the release of Solman 7.1, have become more seriously considered as Enterprise ready tools (see https://support.sap.com/support-programs-services/solution-manager/processes.html). What I have seen in industry suggests to me that the door is slowly opening on SolMan being accepted as being a technology worthy of relying upon for centralised control of businesses’ SAP landscapes. In the last couple of years I’ve seen a real explosion of SolMan related projects for tools like Job Management (with SAP CPS integration), ChaRM, Transport Control, Tech Ops, BPIM. There are a plethora of tools for which adoption rates are climbing.

You will have noted my list of things that are “poor” is long… but this is only because I’m frustrated that DVM isn’t quite where I’d like it to be yet.

DVM feels to me like a real diamond of an idea… but one which is not yet fully cut. It is like a beautiful rough stone,which has the potential to be a multi-faceted diamond. I hope that it will get the support it needs from SAP to fulfill it’s promise and that we will see clear action on communities feedback on this tool.

I geniunely think this is a tool that is already worthy of implmentation to access data that is otherwise highly inaccesible…. but if others feel like me then we want it, but we want it perfected the way it could be.

Note – here are some handy DVM links:

DVM Wiki home page: Data Volume Management – Technical Operations – SCN Wiki

DVM Extractor Information: DVM Extractor Information – Technical Operations – SCN Wiki

DVM Wiki Page on Exporting Data to Excel: http://wiki.scn.sap.com/wiki/download/attachments/247399467/howto_export_data_into_excel.pdf?version=1&modificationDate=…

DVM Wiki Page on Setup – this is 7.0 specific BUT has a couple of good points that still relate to 7.1, specifically around aggregate generation and ST13 running DVM_SETUP for TAANA virtual fields: DVM Cockpit Install and Config – Technical Operations – SCN Wiki

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